Laurent Dubreuil collects speed skating gold for Canada at World Cup in the Netherlands

Laurent Dubreuil collects speed skating gold for Canada at World Cup in the Netherlands

Laurent Dubreuil, the reigning speed skating World Cup champion over 500 metres, was in winning form on Saturday.

The 30-year-old from Lévis, Que., took the men's race in 34.34 seconds in Heerenveen, Netherlands after picking up a silver medal at last week's season opener in Stavanger, Norway.

After a false start, Dubreuil got off the line quickly in the final pair to set an opener of 9.6 seconds at the Thialf arena.

Dubreuil, who prevailed in 10 of 12 races last season, fell 27-100ths of a second shy of the track record on Saturday, set by Tatsuya Shinhama on March 8, 2020.

The 33.61 world mark by Pavel Kulizhnikov of Russia has stood since March 9, 2019.

"It was a really good race. I am happy with my first victory of the year and the way that I skated," Dubreuil told Speed Skating Canada. "The time to beat before I raced was quite difficult to chase, but I was able to stay focused on my goal of skating to win. I knew that it would take a very good race

"I had a much better start than last week and then an excellent lap. The final corner was the best of my life in the 500. I am proud to have rebounded after the disappointment [of finishing 10th in Friday's] 1,000."

WATCH | Dubreuil earns first victory and 3rd medal of the season:

Wataru Morishige of Japan was 11-100ths back of Dubreuil on Saturday in 34.45 while Merijn Scheperkamp of the Netherlands finished third (34.69).

Montreal's Christopher Fiola (34.91) and Cédrick Brunet (35.42) of Gatineau, Que., placed eighth and 19th.

Silver in Stavanger

Last Sunday, Dubreuil earned his second silver medal of the weekend in Norway, recording the fastest lap of the field and racing to a time of 1:09.22 in the 1,000 for his first World Cup medal in the distance since January 2021 when he won bronze in Heerenveen.

Dubreuil stopped the clock in 34.75 to win silver in the 500 last Saturday in Stavanger, the first of six World Cup events scheduled for the season.

WATCH | Dubreuil clinches overall 2021-22 season title in 500m:

Last February, he was an Olympic silver medallist in the men's 1,000 following a disappointing showing in his signature event. Dubreuil was fourth in the 500 in Beijing, the only time all season he missed the podium in the distance.

In other races Saturday, the Canadian trio of Ivanie Blondin, Brooklyn McDougall and Carolina Hiller started slow but quickly closed the gap on the field to place second in the three-lap women's team sprint in 1:27.45. Michelle de Jong, Marrit Fledderus and Femke Kok won in 1:26.57.

WATCH | Canadian women snag team sprint silver:

Reaching the podium was special, said McDougall, given the team hadn't practised together before Saturday's race.

"It's exciting to race team sprint with the girls again and I think we will be even better with more practice," she added. "This was also my first senior World Cup medal, so I am very proud of myself. I will be taking this momentum into tomorrow's 500."

Blondin was also fifth in the women's 1,500, with Dutch skater Antoinette de Jong posting a winning time of 1:53.73.

Quebec City's Beatrice Lamarche (1:58.78) and Alexa Scott (1:59.54) of Clandeboye, Man., were 16th and 18th.

In the men's 5,000, Graeme Fish of Moose Jaw, Sask., was top Canadian in ninth, clocking 6:17.29. Toronto's Jordan Belchos was 13th (6:19.98).

Patrick Roest of the Netherlands was victorious in 6:04.36, lowering his track record from 6:05.14 from Jan. 24, 2021.

Sunday's action begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with the men's 1,500, women's 500, women's 3,000 and men's team sprint.